I had never actually heard Dr. Gabor Mate speak or had any familiarity with his work until after my most recent book was published just a few weeks ago -- but as I was exploring some different podcasts following that publication, I happened across an interview with him . . . and since then I have listened to several other interviews with Dr. Mate, whose work and research I immediately found to be profound and moving and which I believe to be extremely important and paradigm-shifting, both on an individual level and at a societal level.
Above is an interview with Dr. Mate on the Aubrey Marcus Podcast, which is the interview that I listened to most recently and which I believe to be one of the best -- and an excellent interview with which to begin. In order to download the audio file of that podcast to your phone or other mobile device, you can visit this page and look in the "Get the podcast" section for links to the Aubrey Marcus Podcast on iTunes, Android, Spotify and Stitcher (then you will have to scroll down to episode #115 from October 2017 in order to find the actual interview file).
Other excellent interviews with Dr. Mate which I have listened to over the past couple of weeks, and which I would highly recommend, include this one from the Little Sprigspodcast, this one from the Rewild Yourself podcast, and this one from the Recovery 2.0 Power Hour (which you can find by scrolling down to podcast #2 on the stack of podcasts listed on that particular page), among many other possible choices (of an even larger group of interviews with Dr. Mate that I have selected over the past couple weeks, I think these interviews stood out as particularly memorable and helpful, along with the one linked above with Aubrey Marcus, which is the one that I would recommend starting with).
I would also recommend listening to this presentation by Dr. Mate given at the 2017 Psychedelic Science Conference in Oakland, California. It is extremely worthwhile.
As you will hear if you listen to any of the above discussions, Dr. Mate has found abundant and overwhelming evidence which points to the conclusion that all addiction and addictive behavior, as well as a host of other ways in which we sabotage ourselves, and even many chronic diseases, have their roots in trauma, particularly childhood trauma, which he explains is not (as is normally assumed) the actual negative things which happened to us which should not have happened, or the positive things which did not happen to us which should have happened (such as the love and acceptance that every child needs and deserves), but rather the separation from ourselves which takes place as a result of trauma.
This insight is world-changing in importance, because (as Dr. Mate also explains), western medicine generally ignores this evidence and treats addiction as either a moral failure arising from blameworthy choices on the part of the individual, or else as an inherited genetic disorder or predisposition which can only be treated chemically -- leading to treatments or attempted fixes which ignore the actual root cause of the issue.
And, the definition of trauma provided by Dr. Mate, which identifies the trauma as the alienation from one's essential self (as opposed to identifying the trauma with something which happened years in the past) is also critically important, because (as Dr. Mate explains), we cannot go back in time and change the past, but we actually have the ability to reconnect with our essential self at all times -- because our essential self never really left, and is always available to us no matter where we find ourselves at any time.
For example, in the Aubrey Marcus interview linked and embedded above, beginning at about the 15:50 minute mark in the interview, Dr. Mate says:
Well, recall what I said that the essence of trauma is disconnection from the self. That's the good news. Because if the trauma was that your parents split, they were unhappy before you were two years old, and that your father was demanding and judgmental and perhaps harsh with you when you didn't perform well: if that was the trauma, then you're stuck! Because that can never be undone. That happened. It'll never un-happen.
But if the trauma was what happened in you internally, that disconnection from yourself: that connection can be regained at any time.
The western medicine, unfortunately, as you alluded to earlier, sees everything in terms of disease categories. And these are there to be endured, or to be mitigated, or to be cured. But there's no sense in western medicine that I was trained in -- in the western medical tradition -- of internal healing processes that can be invigorated or evoked or supported. And yet the healing is in that reconnection with the self.
So there are means to do that. But that is the goal, and it is also the promise. Because it means that: "It's ok -- this stuff happened. Or good stuff that should have happened didn't happen. But the connection with your authentic self is available to you at any time."
One of the reasons that this information and Gabor Mate's work is so vitally important is that, as he explains in his talk given to the Psychedelic Science Conference in 2017 which is linked above, western society appears to be practically designed to induce trauma. Indeed, based on the rates of addiction, chronic illness, and ongoing medication which can be observed and documented, Dr. Mate observes that: "We live in a toxic culture. We actually live in a culture that makes people sick. And we have to look at the reasons why" (this quotation can be found at approximately 19:50 into the audio file of the lecture linked previously).
Anyone familiar with this blog might guess that, in addition to the tremendous light that Dr. Mate's teaching sheds on my own personal life and behaviors, his work is extremely exciting and intriguing to me because I have for some years been finding abundant and overwhelming evidence which points to the conclusion that the world's ancient myths are metaphorical in nature (a fact which can be demonstrated conclusively because virtually all the characters and episodes in the myths can be shown to connect to specific constellations, specific regions of the night sky, and specific heavenly cycles including the annual cycle and the precessional cycle), and that these metaphorical Star Myths have as one of their central messages the reconnection with the essential self, the authentic self, the higher self -- exemplified, among many other stories, in the episode of the reconciliation between Jesus and Doubting Thomas, as well as in the stories of Eros and Psyche, Pollux and Castor, Krishna and Arjuna, or Gilgamesh and Enkidu.
Indeed, the world's ancient myths can be seen to be a guide for reconciliation with the authentic self, but when they are literalized, that message is generally lost or at least heavily obscured, because literalizing the stories necessarily externalizes them, obscuring the profound truth that all of the pairs named in the previous paragraph are actually one person, not a literal pair -- and that this person is in fact you.
In fact, I would argue that the deliberate literalizing of the ancient myths, and the subsequent bloody, centuries-long, ongoing campaign to impose these literalized myths on the rest of the world (and, in doing so, to deliberately stamp out the Indigenous myths and sacred traditions of virtually every other culture on the planet, beginning with those given to the various cultures of Europe and the Mediterranean, and then continuing on around the world during the subsequent process of imperialism and colonialism) is directly responsible for the toxic culture we now describe as "western," with its high rates of trauma, alienation, depression, addiction, disease, and self-destructive behavior.
What is particularly intriguing, however, is that the very fact that the world's ancient myths appear to be designed as guides for recovering our connection with our authentic self, our higher self, implies that this alienation is not a uniquely modern problem. Indeed, as mentioned above in the list of "twin" examples, and as discussed in this previous video, (and as I explore in some depth in my latest book, The Ancient World-Wide System), among the very oldest myths of which we have original textual evidence, those involving the story of Gilgamesh and Enkidu dating back to the mysterious culture of Sumer, deal with this very subject of alienation and of the loss of connection with the essential self (and how this alienation can be repaired and transcended).
As Dr. Mate discusses in the lecture given in Oakland in 2017 and linked above, the least traumatic environment for the human child appears to be the small hunter-gatherer group in which the child is surrounded by numerous adults, and in which the economic requirements do not result in prolonged separation of the child from the attention of the mother and father.
Is it possible that the ancient myths were given to humanity as a means of helping us to cope with the alienation which is inevitable in the transition from hunter-gatherer societies? This possibility is not one that I have considered previously, but it does seem to have a certain very strong resonance with some of the theories advanced by Graham Hancock in his most recent and very important book, America Before. In that book, Graham proposes that hunter-gatherer societies would be the societies most likely to have survived an ancient civilization-destroying catastrophe (such as a comet impact), and that members of a now-forgotten predecessor culture might have deliberately reached out to hunter-gatherer societies either before or after such a cataclysm in order to try to preserve knowledge that would otherwise have been lost.
(Note that I am not here suggesting that Dr. Gabor Mate is proposing this connection or that he knows of or endorses Graham Hancock's latest book and theories -- the discussion in these later paragraphs are my own musings on this intriguing subject and the evidence that I have been discovering in the world's ancient myths).
Such a scenario is certainly one to consider -- but in any case, it is undeniable that the world's ancient myths are built upon a world-wide system of celestial metaphor, and that their message can therefore be shown to be about something other than describing literal and historical figures and events. And one of their central messages appears to be recovering our relationship with and connection to a Higher Self, and overcoming self-sabotage and the entangling limitations of the "egoic self" -- see for example previous posts such as:
Finally, note that Dr. Mate concludes his lecture at the Oakland Pyschedelic Science Conference with a quotation from a book called A Story Waiting to Pierce You, a book by the wonderful Peter Kingsley, who also wrote In the Dark Places of Wisdom, in which the author explains the western problem of constantly trying to chase after solutions outside of ourselves for a void we have deep inside, and how the ancients pointed us in a different direction -- only to have their wisdom subverted.
I am convinced that the truths that Dr. Gabor Mate has been sharing with the world are of critical importance to each and every one of us, and that the ancient myths are likewise pointing us towards these same truths, and showing us how to regain our connection with our authentic self, our higher self -- and that this message is absolutely critical for finding a way to repair, reform, and revivify the toxic culture in which we find ourselves at the present moment, which if not addressed and corrected may threaten the survival of humanity even more than has any catastrophe we have faced in previous millennia.